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Bahrain: Saar

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Saar | Bahrain | Asia

[Visited: November 2009]

On a previous visit, I had been searching for the ruins of Saar. While doing so, we were invited in by a local woman, who treated us to drinks and some insight in the home of a Bahraini family. But we were not able to find the settlement we were looking for - even our host could not indicate where to find them. We ended up on an unsealed road that proved to be a dead end. This time, I was determined to go there, but even renting a car proved difficult. I decided to look for a rental place myself, and asked the reception at my hotel if they at least could indicate the ruins on a map. Strangely enough, they never heard about it, but offered to ask someone else outside, and disappeared. After waiting a little bit, I decided to follow them outside, where they were talking to someone who seemed to know. He asked me if I was the one who wanted to go to Saar, and told me it was difficult to find. Then, in a flash, he proposed to go there together, and opened the door of his car.

Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Interior of the ancient temple of Saar

I was so surprised, I did not know what to say. I asked him if he was sure about his offer, and told him I wanted to spend time at the ruins of Saar, so he could drop me off if he wanted to. But in a gesture of the grand hospitality so commonly found in the Middle East, he urged me into his car, whispering he did not have anything to do anyway, as it was a weekend day. We were off - and quickly reached the town of Saar. I recognized the road we took - we even passed the Bahraini house I had been invited to before. All the while, Nasser, my newly found friend, and I were talking about work, women, and wine - and life in general. After taking the same dead end road I had taken before, I was wondering if my newly found Bahraini friend would be able to find the ruins. Turned out, someone close to the king had acquired a piece of land, constructed a wall around it, which obscured and actually blocked access to the ruins. We drove around it, and when we finally saw the entrance with two guards and a few dogs, we were very close to where we had been before - on the other side of the wall.

Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Ancient houses in the ruins of Saar

We entered the ruins from a vantage point that is slightly higher than the ruins of Saar themselves, which gave us a good overview over the place. Here, my friend returned to his car, and I was alone in the ruins that were reflecting the bright sunlight on my startled eyes. It was bigger than I expected. I could clearly distinguish various streets, and walked to the ruins through the sand of the desert. Only the basic outline of the houses and their rooms was visible. After walking a few streets, I came across a larger building, which turned out to be an ancient Dilmun temple. The temple was constructed at the crossroads of the two main streets of the settlement around 1900 BCE, on an elevated position. It still occupies a prominent place, and is clearly the best preserved place of Saar. Or, perhaps, the best restored one? Teams of archeologists have been working to uncover the secrets of these ruins of the Dilmun era. Constructed from limestone found locally, the temple has the remains of huge buttresses inside, as well as what looks like an enormous chair - was this the throne of a god? One unique characteristic is the oddly shaped corner on the far side of the temple. Little is known about the Dilmun temple, and for now, we can only speculate about the significance of what we see. When I returned to the car, my newly found Bahraini friend Nasser was patiently waiting for me, and took me to yet another place with burial hills before taking me back to my hotel. I was very grateful to him for his kindness - and was at a loss at how to thank him.

Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Corner of the Dilmun temple of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Old pillar in the temple of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Remains of Dilmun temple in Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Outline of a circular building of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Looking inside an old house in the settlement of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Saar street with sand and walls
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): It is easy to discern the outline of houses in the ruins of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Sandy street in the ancient ruins of Saar
Picture of Saar (Bahrain): Ancient well provided water to the residents of Saar

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